Updated: 05/16/2020 by Computer Hope
Tilde character or symbol.

Alternatively referred to as the squiggly or twiddle, the tilde is a character ( ~ ) on keyboards below the Esc (escape key). It is on the same key as the back quote that resembles a squiggly line. The graphic gives a representation of how the tilde character may appear when typed.

Where is the tilde key on the keyboard?

Below is an overview of a computer keyboard with the tilde key highlighted in blue.

Tilde key

How to create the ~ symbol

Creating the ~ symbol on a U.S. keyboard

To create the tilde symbol using a U.S. keyboard hold down Shift and press ~. This symbol is on the same key as back quote ( ` ), in the top-left portion of the keyboard under Esc.

Creating the ~ symbol on a smartphone or tablet

To create a tilde on a smartphone or tablet's on-screen keyboard, tap the numbers button (123), then the symbols button (#+=). Then, tap the tilde (~) button.

What is a tilde is used for on a computer?

Below are a few examples of how and when the tilde is used.

  1. In languages like Spanish and Portuguese, the tilde is a diacritical mark over letters such as 'ñ' and 'ã' indicating alternate pronunciation of a consonant or vowel.
  2. Shorten long file names in Microsoft Windows 95 above. For example, changing the "Program Files" directory to the "Progra~1" directory.
  3. In regular expressions, the tilde can be used for pattern matching.
  4. A file beginning with a tilde or a tilde and a dollar sign (e.g., ~$example.doc) is a temporary file.
  5. In C programming languages, the ~ represents a bitwise NOT.
  6. Get to the home directory on a Linux computer (e.g., cd ~).
  7. Access the console in programs and games such as Quake.
  8. In mathematics, ~ indicates an approximate number.
  9. Access to the Tilda GTK+ terminal emulator.

How to get a tilde above a letter

To place a tilde, or another accent mark, above a letter on keyboards, use the character map, or use the "insert special character" feature of the program.

What is the other symbol on the tilde key?

On U.S. keyboards, the tilde key is shared with the back quote, which may be shown next to or below the tilde symbol.

Keyboard terms